Dog Days

Are you as tired of these miserable hot humid days as I am? In case you haven’t noticed, the dog days of Summer are upon us. We are so tired of the heat, tempers are short, we are irritable. It seems that nothing is going right. We dread getting in the hot car to go shopping and the local stores suffer from lack of customers. We have had it with the heat and humidity. We anticipate the coming of cooler weather. During this time insect bites are more likely to get infected and are harder to heal. Gnats are peskier. The birds who have greeted us with their unending trills in spring and early summer are suddenly silent. Even the birds have retreated to the cooler shade of the forest and only come out to seek the cool water of a sprinkler. Shrubbery is over grown and nut grass is taking over the flower beds. Zinnias are the only flowers to bravely survive the heat and continue to provide colorful bouquets.

The weather is so hot that even the dogs just lie still and pant in the shade. Popular culture think this is where dog days got its name.

Actually, Dog Days is the name given by the Romans to the month between July 24 and August 24 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rose and set at the same time as the sun. It seems the ancient Romans hated the heat and humidity as much as we do and recognized it with a special name. Our present Farmer’s Almanac records that our dog days begin on July 3 and end on August 11.The wobble of the earth as it rotates on its axis accounts for the difference in the dates since Roman times.

My calculation of dog days has nothing to do with a star in the sky. It is based on the normal reaction to the season. I like the Romans way of calculating the season of dog days better than the present one. For the purpose of this blog I am going to ignore the Farmer’s Almanac calculation of Dog Days and talk about this time of year as I experience it.

It seems to me that the Roman way of calculating dog days fits best with the pattern of our lives. I disagree with the present was of calculating dog days because they don’t fit the way people live their lives. By early July people are still excited about Summer, swimming, picnics, long days and grilling and other outside activities. The July Fourth holiday marks vacation time for many people with family trips to the beach or the mountains or cross country to sight-see or visit relatives. Then the stifling heat of August descends upon us and by August 24, we welcome the end of Summer and the return of the cooler weather and the schedule that work and school imposes.

Even though we manage to live with the comfort of air conditioning and feel so sorry for people who have to work in the heat. We wonder how men who work paving the roads with the black tar and smell Also, those who work on roofs.

The first sign of the change of the season is welcomed as the mornings are noticeably cooler before the days begin to heat up. The next hint is the first faint fog in the early morning air. The sky takes on an impossibly beautiful blue color and clouds are like exploding marshmallows, creating interesting shapes.

The night sky of August is also breathtakingly beautiful; the stars call us to think beyond our present day to day mundanity and live in the larger landscape of our soul. Every season has its beauty and its blessing.


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